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What WOCS Can Do for You
After spending eight years as an enlisted Soldier, CW2 Antonio Montgomery of the South Carolina National Guard wanted to advance his career but still remain a subject matter expert. The answer: Warrant Officer Candidate School. It gave him the skills to be a leader and the opportunity to pursue his passion for flying.
WHY HE WENT
As an enlisted Aviation Operations Specialist (15P) in an Apache attack battalion, Montgomery spent his days learning about helicopters and staying in constant communication with pilots, following their flight plans and logging their flight records. “You’re their eyes and ears on the ground,” he says about his former MOS.
During a 2004–2005 deployment to Iraq, Montgomery regularly worked with aviation warrant officers to plan and execute missions on enemy ground. He admired the warrants’ understated professionalism and expert knowledge.
“[Warrant officers] are considered to be the best of the best in their field,” he says. Montgomery wanted to become a pilot but remain a subject matter expert in aviation, so he applied for Warrant Officer Candidate School (WOCS).
WHAT HE LEARNED
To prepare for WOCS, Montgomery stepped up his running and strength training. As he’d expected, the course tested him physically and mentally. Days began at 0500 with course leaders accounting for every minute. During the daily morning PT, the warrant officer candidates had to run as long as their training, advising and counseling (TAC) officer felt like it. “They run until they get tired. You never know when it’s going to end,” he recalls.
After PT, most of the day was allotted to classroom study, learning the leadership duties, discipline, and physical and character standards required to become a warrant. “The way you carry yourself [as a warrant] is different. You’re the leader,” he says.
Montgomery’s class also went through a career college, learning about each of the 41 career fields for warrant officers within the Guard’s 16 career branches, such as aviation, military intelligence and field artillery.
WHAT IT DID FOR HIM
After graduating from WOCS in 2009, Montgomery eventually went on to flight school to become a Black Hawk pilot. Now serving as an operations warrant officer for the 2nd Battalion, 149th Aviation, General Support Aviation Battalion (GSAB), he’s the go-to guy for all things aviation. At any moment, he may need to perform a search and rescue mission, deliver troops to hot zones, or respond to natural disasters.
“When I was enlisted, I was in charge of a few Soldiers, but now that I’m a warrant officer, I’m more of a leader. I’m more visible in the things I do—how I wear my uniform and how I work,” he says. Today, Montgomery can’t imagine any other career in the Guard. “Following the warrant officer path means you’re critical to administering and executing plans, as well as being the leader whom officers and enlisted personnel look to for advice and direction.”–Story by Camille Breland, Photo by SSGT Jorge Intriago